My lunch with The Speaker

When I do these “my lunch with…” things I listen. I may ask a question or two but mostly I just listen. And every politician is happy to spend an hour talking. It’s the nature of the job, and with an hour to fill, the real interesting part is what they choose to discuss.

Except Speaker Romanoff. He answers questions quietly and succinctly. And that’s it. He also isn’t selling anything. Granted he’s not running for office this November but he has an initiative for the ballot. He’s supporting numerous Dems actively. And no sales job at all.

This is a person 100% focused on making the system work. There’s no “me, me, me” in The Speaker. I think this is key to his success and to the great respect he’s held in. And at the same time he’s a very engaging speaker.

He takes a lot of pride in referendum C, primarily in working with everyone involved to get enough support, and all the critical key players, on-board. What the basic compromise had to be was pretty obvious to most, but convincing everyone that this is the best that was acceptable to all – that was an amazing effort. They say success has a million parents while failure is an orphan. But Romanoff was a key player in making this happen and he views that as one of his major accomplishments, as he should.

He talked at length (meaning more than 3 sentences) about how the recently passed budget meant more money to fund critical programs, and the individuals this reached and how much it meant for them. He sees how what they do in the legislature can mean the world to those we help. Having legislation make a difference clearly drives him.

He also talked about the mess we have with TABOR and the other spending requirements in the constitution. It was interesting listening to him talk about this, the various approaches to fixing it, the trade-offs with each approach, and the ramifications of each solution. He definitely knows this subject very well. Even more important, he’s clearly open to working toward a whatever solution will work & can pass rather than being locked into a single solution.

How to govern kept coming up and he clearly views the job of legislating as a responsibility to work together to craft solutions. He clearly was bothered that the budget passed on a party line vote (1 Republican in each house also voted for it). He takes pride in moving good Republican sponsored legislation forward rather than using the Republican party approach of killing anything with a Democratic sponsor. Again, taking his responsibility to legislate seriously.

At the end I asked him if he had a magic wand, what would be his one wish. He said to get a guaranteed level of adequate funding for education – pre-school through higher ed. What’s interesting is education funding came up at most tangentially throughout the conversation before then. And I had assumed his wish would be to untangle the TABOR/etc mess. So interesting answer.

He’s definitely a rock star. A very likable rock star. And an exceptional legislator.

ps – I asked him what he’s going to do next. I got the standard “I have no idea.” He’s concentrating now on getting Dems elected in November, his initiative, and graduating from law school (1 last class this fall).

First published at Liberal and Loving It

Speaker Romanoff's next job will be

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18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Cartesian Doubt says:

    He spoke at my graduation from film school in 2005. He complimented me on the Tazmanian Devil tie I’d worn for the occasion. I found him intelligent, witty, and dedicated to helping others. He challenged us to make a difference.

    I ended up changing the course of my education and graduated from Metro last month with a PoliSci degree.

    I interned for the state senate a while back, and never got the chance to thank him.

    He and a few other legislators are why I’ve changed my opinion on term limits.  

  2. Precinct854 says:

    Secretary of State is better than a sharp poke in the eye with a stick, so he might very well take it. And given his being rather liked in the legislature he’d probably be an easy nomination even with Republicans grumbling about any Democrat being appointed. But it depends on how well Ritter likes Romanoff as well as if he’d like to find a moderate Republican as an olive branch to them.

    He is young enough to keep going in Colorado politics for quite some time to come at age 40. I would hope that if Romanoff is as dedicated to public service as he seems that he’s thinking about moving to a job that will help him get in as Governor or Senator. We need good people at the top of the slippery poll.

    Matthew

  3. cubsfan says:

    Who are the Democratic candidates that Romanoff said he’s working to help elect?

  4. parsingreality says:

    About six years ago I arrived late for a morning meeting of the ethics committee I was a member of.  There was this good looking, witty, and obviously well informed man  speaking to the group.  

    I was very impressed.  I said to myself – and thankfully not him – “He should run for office.”

    Yes, he is an all around winner for Colorado, in any capacity, including federal office. I have no doubt he will run for Congress sooner or later, unless he just wants to be in the local mix only. Governor after Ritter?  Yeah……  Sixteen years of peace and prosperity.  

  5. Spartacus says:

    was that he took his role as the presiding officer of the House very seriously.  Under his watch, the House was attentive even during introductions.  In his first session as Speaker he sponsored a resolution to allow the Minority Leader to appoint their conference committee members and bills in conference sponsored by Republicans had Republican chairs.  During passage of that rule he said something to the effect of “I believed in this as Minority Leader and continue to believe in it as Speaker.”  Can’t imagine Keith King or Lola Spradley saying those words.  Personally, I hope he stays local, he’s much more useful around here!

  6. bob ewegen says:

    at DU night classes in his “spare time.”

    He is just a class or two short. If he wants to finish up, pass the bar, and otherwise busy himself, he can run for the Senate in two years when Jennifer Veiga is term-limited. If he has a passion to be secretary of state, I haven’t detected it. It is an important job, yes, but administrative in nature with little impact on the public policy issues that he cares about so deeply.  I sometimes wonder whether he or Cary Kennedy will be the D-candidate for governor in 2014.  But Congress might also beckon if DeGette ever retires.

    Don’t you just hate these over-achievers?

    • Danny the Red (hair) says:

      I graduated 2 years ago–so it is a bit “spare time”–Terrance Carrol was also, in the same class and he graduated 2 years ago too.

      However, Romanoff was one of the few people I turned around to listen to–I considered him to be one of the smartest guys in the room.  So I would never hold the long plan against him.

      • bob ewegen says:

        during the legislative sessions, but still pecked away in fall and summer. amazing. On the other hand, he doesn’t have a family, so he didn’t have to make that choice.  I agree he’s one of the smartest guys in the room…and unlike many smart guys, he recognizes and defers to other smart people, like the folks on his staff.  He just doesn’t feel threatened by really able people like some smart people do.  My daughter Misty also graduated DU law two years ago.

  7. bob ewegen says:

    at DU night classes in his “spare time.”

    He is just a class or two short. If he wants to finish up, pass the bar, and otherwise busy himself, he can run for the Senate in two years when Jennifer Veiga is term-limited. If he has a passion to be secretary of state, I haven’t detected it. It is an important job, yes, but administrative in nature with little impact on the public policy issues that he cares about so deeply.  I sometimes wonder whether he or Cary Kennedy will be the D-candidate for governor in 2014.  But Congress might also beckon if DeGette ever retires.

    Don’t you just hate these over-achievers?

  8. The realist says:

    If he doesn’t get plugged into another high-level public service leadership position in the near future, it will be the (Colorado) community’s fault as much as his.  Four years ago (when running for office) I was involved in a conversation a Dem legislator had with Romanoff, trying to convince him then that he should run for Governor (they were right).  And I’m sure a few posters here witnessed this at the State Dem Convention — Romanoff spent considerable time moving gradually around the World Arena, talking to dozens of supporters, getting photos taken with them, etc.  It definitely came across as for his supporters’ benefit, not for his.  

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